How to Create a Home Office in a Living Room
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Now that Wilder is in school two days a week, I am able to work so much more than I have since we moved here. When we originally set up this living room, we did add a desk for me to work at, which has been amazing but as I’ve gotten busier, my needs have grown. I have been shoving contracts in the two skinny desk drawers, and they’re a mess. My Cricut Maker was a new addition over the holidays, and I had nowhere to store it. Something needed to be done to create more of a dedicated home office area… I needed storage desperately! Today I am going to show you just how I carved out more storage and space in my little desk corner, as well as other progress in this space. We truly have not touched this room aside from putting in furniture, and it’s time for it to become a little more special, a little more us, and a lot more functional. Ironically, the last time I really shared any progress on this space was almost one year to the day (tomorrow will be one year!). That’s how neglected this poor room has been…
Full disclosure… this post is truly progress, and not a room reveal, and this lazy girl decided to shoot photos solely with my phone. You are welcome.
As you can see, I’ve just added much needed shelving to give me ample storage and really create a home office zone. Prior to this, we had a large mirror behind the computer. I honestly loved having the mirror there, and loved the light it reflected into this rather dark west-facing space, but it wasn’t serving my needs. Here is the same space last Spring with the super cool Bassett mirror. It’s a beautiful huge modern mirror and I hope I can find another spot for it. When I originally ordered it through working with Bassett, it was new and they didn’t have dimensions so I had hoped it would work in my entry, but turns out it was too large. While the mirror was beautiful, it didn’t serve my growing needs at all and wasn’t a functional use of space. I needed a true, if small and tight, home office.
Creating an Office in a Living Room
To create an office space in a living room, there are a few key points to consider.
- Keep the footprint small and use vertical space. When working within the confines of an existing room, always use vertical space. I am a huge fan of creating storage on the walls, and have done so in my kids bedrooms. When you use wall space for hooks, shelves, book ledges, you don’t sacrifice any square footage.
- Make it stylish. I will never forget the hideous cheap wood-look desk that Chris had when I first moved in with him when we were living in sin. It was out in the open and made me cringe! Post-graduate furniture was the worst way back in the late 90s and early 2000’s. We didn’t know any better… forgive us. If you are creating an office in an existing room, you need to make it suit the style of the room, especially if it’s in such an obvious space such as ours. Invest in pieces that will make your little home office corner reflect your style, keep you comfortable, and keep you inspired. There’s no standard to this rule, just follow your heart.
- Add plants. OK, so this isn’t a rule either, but plants just add so much life to a space. When you are at home alone, trying to work in your little office corner on a gray and dreary day (such as I am right at this moment!) plants bring joy, fresh air, and life.
Obviously, what I truly needed was to use my vertical space wisely, and add shelving (with plants!). I didn’t want anything ornate or flimsy, nor did I want track shelving like we used in Sawyer’s room, because I wanted it slightly more elevated. After all, this corner is immediately next to our front door and people see it regularly. It’s bad enough I have to try to keep my desk clutter-free. 😉
DIY Cartel happened to reach out to me to see if I would be interested in trying some of their shelf brackets around the time I was dreaming up this project, and I jumped at the chance. In particular I loved this style which can be used with the back support pointing up or down, but they do offer several styles. I also adore the look of their solid forged raw steel shelves, but I wanted a little warmth in this corner. I might use those later when I finally get to redoing Sawyer’s bathroom one day. Anyhow, let’s dive into this project!
- Heavy duty shelf brackets
- Common board, cut to size (mine are the 12″ depth and 42″ in length as I wanted them to span the width of my desk)
- 1/2″ wood screws
- 2″ wood screws
- Heavy duty drywall anchors (I used these).
Planning: I measured the height from the top of my computer monitor to the ceiling to figure out how many shelves I could get with the bottom two having 12″ in height so that I could get magazine files for my contracts. I would love to get these magazine file boxes, and they are each 11 3/4″ high. Anyhow, given my measurements, I was able to fit 3 shelves above my desk. With the desk being 42″ wide, I also knew I wanted my shelves to be the same width to really maximize the space and please the eye. With 42″ shelves, two brackets per shelf are plenty, so I ordered 6 brackets. By the way, I could have bought the boards and cut them myself, but I love the free service that Home Depot offers of cutting wood for you. Because I was just using them for shelves and not building something that required perfection, it was a great opportunity to put that service to work and save myself the trouble.
Installation: To make these shelves as sturdy as possible, it’s best to have both brackets in studs. With our spacing, that wasn’t possible, so I wanted to make sure that at least one side would be secure in a stud. Once I found the stud (it’s on the right side of the shelves, and all of the right brackets are mounted on studs), I began by installing my first bracket on that right side, measuring from the desk up, and giving myself about 6″ above the computer monitor. I didn’t want the shelf sitting write on top of it as that wouldn’t be good for the computer and it might hinder my vision of the screen. I made sure my bracket was level, marked the holes in the bracket on the wall with a pen, and drilled lead holes on those pen marks. Next, I screwed my 2″ wood screws into the wall and securing the bracket in place.
After the first bracket was up, I measured the space from the edge of the desk to the bracket so that my bracket on the left would be equidistant from the other edge of the desk. Again I used the level to make sure that it was straight, and also that make sure that the shelf placed on this bracket and the one already hung would be straight. Once I was sure it was all straight, I again marked my drill spots. Here I was drilling into drywall, so I followed the instructions on my heavy duty anchors. I am not going to lie… I had a few challenging moments, dropped some F bombs (Wilder was out running errands with Chris), but in the end, I figured it out and got the bracket mounted.
Once both brackets were up, I sat my wood on the brackets, tested it to make sure it was in fact level, and then secured the shelf in place using my 1/2″ wood screws. Here you can see the 2″ screws are in place on the wall, and the 1/2″ in place under the shelf..
With the first shelf up, I measured 12″ up from the top of the shelf to figure out where the top of the next set of brackets would go. Once I had that height, I repeated the process of mounting the right side into the wood, then the left into drywall, and mounting that second shelf. Finally, I repeated this process one last time for the last shelf.
Other Progress in This Room
Now that the shelves are mounted on the wall, there is still so much to do! As you can see, the shelves are currently in their raw wood state, but I would like to paint them the same color as the walls. I absolutely love the look that Emma of A Beautiful Mess achieved in her home office which is a gorgeous green-gray and features shelves in the same color. Of course, our living room is the original white it is when we moved in at the moment. I have holes to fill all over the walls, and need to select a color. This room has one double window which sounds lovely, but it gets very little natural light because the front of the house faces west.
This room is right off the entry which features our black stenciled walls and pink door, and off of its other doorway is the dining room which has our gorgeous mural. Yesterday I hit my local Sherwin Williams with some colors in mind, and brought home about 4,392 swatches, give or take. These are 6 of my favorites. Because this room is so poorly lit, I definitely want to keep it feeling relatively light, warm, a hint of color.
Here you can see those swatches placed on the one wall that gets some daylight, off the dining room. Here you can also see that Wilder has been busy playing.
He deserved it though, He had been officing from home all day.
In addition to choosing a color for this space, I’ve got new rugs on the way and I will be sharing those later this month. (These have sadly been destroyed by my dogs, and I’ve just rearranged to make them work.) Additionally, on Super Bowl weekend we took advantage of TV sales and got a larger smart TV for this room. Previously we had an old non-smart technology TV. There are times when Wilder wakes up from his nap and I have maybe 20 minutes of work left when I could honestly use Netflix just to let me wrap up. (Otherwise, I do not let him watch much TV at all!) The other option is a new laptop that I can take to his room while he plays, but the TV was $400 compared to the $2500 laptop, so we went with the TV. Currently our TV sits on a vintage dresser, and I would love something more functional, that we can tuck stools under for extra seating. I do not have any idea what yet… This is the old TV, but the dresser is still there. The chair has been moved downstairs. I would love to possibly just add shelving all on this wall, with a space for the TV which we plan to wall mount. Again, I am open to suggestions!
Lastly, I need to fill my shelves more functionally. I added all of my self-help books that I like to reference when I work sometimes, my journals, and my Cricut, but I need to get those magazine files as well as some other storage boxes. I didn’t bother filling the shelves for this post, because I truly want to fill them with functional items versus things that just look pretty sitting there.
Are you lucky enough to have an actual home office, or are you creating it in a little space like I am? What tips and tricks do you have to share?